France’s Francois Hollande Takes Some Credit For Syria Deal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference in Paris that the three powers agreed with Russia that Assad must suffer consequences if he fails to comply with U.N. demands. “If Assad fails in time to abide by the terms of this framework, make no mistake, we are all agreed – and that includes Russia – that there will be consequences,” Kerry said. The accord offered the Syrian leader “no lifeline” and he had “lost all legitimacy”, Kerry added. After Hollande met Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague and their French counterpart Laurent Fabius, an aide to Hollande said: “The idea is to stick to a firm line”. “They’ve agreed to seek a strong and robust resolution that sets precise and binding deadlines with a calendar,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Russia accused the Europeans of trying to reinterpret the agreement. Speaking in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said any rush to draw up a resolution threatening to punish Syria in the event of non-compliance showed a “lack of understanding” of the agreement reached for Assad to give up his chemical weapons. “Our (European) partners want to again unilaterally review what we’ve agreed on with the Americans. That’s not how you do business, and I’m sure that despite these statements that are coming from European capitals, the Americans will, as proper negotiators, strictly stick to what has been agreed on,” Lavrov said.

“Expectations are that a driver and a team give 100 percent effort, their best effort, to complete a race and race as hard as they possibly can,” France said. Later today, NASCAR is expected to release a technical bulletin detailing new rules that will be effective Sunday. President Mike Helton recited the draft of Tenet 12-4L to the competitors and the media, which states: “NASCAR requires its competitors to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in an event. Any competitor who takes action with the intent to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event or encourages, persuades or induces others to artificially alter the finishing position of the event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR. Such penalties may include but are not limited to disqualification and/or loss of finishing points and/or fines and/or loss of points and/or suspension and/or probation to any and all members of the teams, including any beneficiaries of the prohibited actions. “‘Artificially altered’ shall be defined as actions by any competitor that show or suggest that the competitor did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the event at NASCAR’s sole discretion.” Helton offered a “working” laundry list of what actions would be acceptable, such as “contact while racing for position, drafting, pitting, tire and fuel management yielding to a faster car, alternative pit strategy and long fuel strategy.” On restarts, Helton added that if a competitor elected to lay over for one driver, “you lay over for all” but that there would be further explanation in Sunday’s drivers’ meeting. As for what was unacceptable, Helton included “offering a position in exchange for a favor, offering material benefit in exchange for track position” as was intimated but not proved last Saturday night between the Penske Racing No. 22 team and the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports team. Also related to Richmond was, “directing a driver to give up a position to the benefit of another driver, intentionally causing a caution,” the former, which NASCAR found fault with from the No. 38 and Michael Waltrip Racing — the latter, which allegedly happened with the No. 15 MWR Toyota. Helton added “intentionally wrecking a driver, pitting or pulling into the garage to gain advantage from another competitor,” would not be tolerated. To deter collusion on the spotter stand, vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said only one spotter per team would be allowed on the spotter’s stand and each can carry two analog radios, a scanner plus a Fanvision.

Serbia beats France, Ukraine reaches quarterfinals of European basketball champs for 1st time

“The military threat has to be maintained to bring [Syrian President Bashar] Assad to the table,” Hollande said in an interview with France’s TF1 television station. “And sanctions have to be envisaged if he does not comply” with any U.N. resolution on the chemical weapons. Hollande has been President Obama ‘s most prominent European supporter on the issue of armed intervention in Syria. Before Russia proposed that Syria agree to give up its chemical weapons, the French president had called for a coalition of European states to join in military action against Syria but said France would go it alone if necessary. “We threatened force,” Hollande said in the interview Sunday, “not just us but the United States and the United Kingdom. If we hadn’t, Assad would have continued to threaten his own population.” British Prime Minister David Cameron backed off from a threat of force after Parliament voted to oppose military intervention. Hollande called the Syrian civil war “the most serious tragedy since the start of the 21st century” and said France could be proud of its efforts to bring about a solution to the chemical weapons issue. “Until now, it was the United States and France who envisaged [air] strikes to change something, and to persuade the Russians,” he said. “The pressure we exercised has played a part. The next step is to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis.” Responding to allegations that France had become America’s puppet, Hollande said: “What crime is there to be with President Obama on this essential question that affects our own security?

Celebrating a new American in France

With France cutting the gap, Nedovic made a 3-pointer that gave his team a 10-point lead with 2:28 left in the game. The win gave Serbia first place in Group E, with both teams having already qualified for the quarterfinals. Lithuania took second, France third and Ukraine fourth. Nedovic, a shooting guard headed for the Golden State Warriors, finished with 17 points and upstaged Parker, the San Antonio Spurs’ star, who was held to 10 points. “He is a great player and it was our team effort that stopped him,” said Nedovic, who went 5-for-8 from 3-point range and had 14 of his points in the second half. Center Nenad Krstic finished with 19 points while two other Serbia big men, Djordje Gagic and Vladimir Stimac, combined for 16 points and 11 rebounds. Serbia overcame 48-percent shooting from the foul line. “They were more aggressive, they put us under pressure and they have bigger men, Krstic was big inside,” France forward Nicolas Batum said. Batum was one of four France players with 12 points. Earlier, Sacha Massot had a key block and a dunk late in the game to help give Belgium a 60-56 victory over Latvia that sent Ukraine into the quarterfinals. Ukraine needed the help, too, as it lost 70-63 to Lithuania in a later game. Latvia needed to win and have Lithuania beat Ukraine to advance. “We beat Belgium by one point on a 3-point play with two seconds left in our first game of the tournament and they did us a favor today,” Ukraine coach Mike Fratello said. Croatia, Slovenia and Italy have already advanced from Group F, which ends play Monday. Spain, Greece and Finland are in the running for one remaining slot.

France lays out ‘rules of the road’

Even with this countrys painful racial history, I have never regretted being a citizen. My grandparents always taught us to keep Dr. Martin Luther Kings dream alive and to strive for the best, for ourselves and for our country. When my high-school band director instructed us to play Lee Greenwoods God Bless the USA, it meant something to me and my bandmates. When I married a Frenchman and moved to Paris in 1999, I was confronted with an entirely different view of my home country. I learned what the French and other Europeans sometimes think of us, things that I had never before considered: Americans are loud. Americans dont recognize any countries outside of the United States. Americans are rich. Americans are fake. Each time someone French presents these arguments to me, I listen and learn, and explain that not all of us are loud or fake or rich or geographically challenged. After more than a decade living in France, I have an even greater appreciation of being American. I am encouraged to see President Obama and French President FrancoisHollande working together to address the Syrian crisis. Its far different from 10 years ago, when a congressman renamed french fries as freedom fries on the House menu afterFrance refused to back the invasion of Iraq.